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Safe Spaces: A Defence

Stephens, Kay; (2018) Safe Spaces: A Defence. Masters thesis (M.Phil.Stud), UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

This thesis is about ‘safe spaces’, understood as rule-governed spaces within universities which exclude certain kinds of (putatively) oppressive speech. My central aim is to defend safe space practice against two popular criticisms, namely what I call the ‘oversensitivity’ criticism, and the ‘epistemic’ criticism. In the introduction, I provide some motivation for the specific conception of safe spaces I employ, and outline the two criticisms of safe spaces, both of which seem to appeal to a certain conception of universities, and the values and dispositions they should inculcate in students. In the first chapter, I reconstruct and respond to the oversensitivity critique of safe spaces, which holds that safe spaces exclude certain kinds of putatively oppressive speech on the basis that they cause offence to target groups, and that as such safe spaces encourage oversensitivity, understood as a disposition to take offence where this is inappropriate. In the second chapter, I reconstruct and respond to the epistemic critique of safe spaces, which holds that the acquisition of truth and knowledge is best facilitated by what I call norms of open discussion, and that safe spaces flout such norms by excluding certain viewpoints. In my conclusion, I briefly outline further issues with safe spaces that I do not have space to address.

Type: Thesis (Masters)
Qualification: M.Phil.Stud
Title: Safe Spaces: A Defence
Event: UCL (University College London)
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Philosophy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10045272
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